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One of Williams’ best
Only today’s programming was accessible at deadline last week but it’s grand enough to allow three outstanding films to be chosen and still leave a full field of Also Rans, each of which might have won on another day, including the BEST FILM OF THE WEEK, not picked only because it screens too early (Cool Hand Luke, 6 am TCM), Bruce Dern in an amazing role (Nebraska, 10.55 am Max), Tom Hanks in his best-known one (Forrest Gump, 1.34 pm Paramount), Dustin Hoffman in his best one in a dress and padded bra (Tootsie, 6.50 pm TCM), Meryl Streep in her latest magnificent one (August: Osage County, 3.45 pm Fox1), Matthew McChest&Shoulders in his most physically demanding one (Dallas Buyers Club, 5.45 pm Fox1), Heath Ledger in his last heartbreaking one (The Dark Knight, 3 pm HBO) and Ryan Gosling and Jake Gyllenhaal doing much more than being pretty (The Place Beyond the Pines, 9 pm MaxP, *Prisoners, 7.30 pm Fox1). Anyone who can read Spanish subtitles should ignore all this and watch a great Palestinian film (Omar, 3.05 pm Max) or an even better Danish one (The Hunt, 6.55 pm MaxE, which, in an English subtitles world, would be the REAL BEST FILM OF THE WEEK).
Today’s best film:
American Hustle (David O Russell/ 2013/ USA/ Crime-Drama/ 138 mins/ R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence), 8.35 am HBO Signature. Watch this if you liked The Sting, The Counsellor or The Bank Job. The director of Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter turns his hand to the caper flick and turns in a seamless, fast-paced film crammed with excellent performances and with the hottest rock ‘n’ roll/R&B soundtrack since The Departed, to boot. Jennifer Lawrence won the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe as Christian Bale’s wife, but it is Bale himself, as the small time conman looking to go big, and Amy Adams as his co-conspirator, who really shine—even though Bradley Cooper, Lawrence’s co-lead in Silver Linings, is also magnificent in a strong supporting role. Add a script that keeps you guessing but doesn’t fudge the resolutions in the least and you have a great experience. Movie magic, for sure.
Good Morning Vietnam (Barry Levinson/ 1987/ USA/ Comedy-War-Drama/ 121 mins/ R), 7.55 am HBO. Watch this if you liked Wag the Dog, The Fisher King or MASH. What was probably Robin Williams’ best movie role required him to play basically himself, but the part was that of the real-life Adrian Cronauer, a US Army armed forces radio DJ in Vietnam. The best moments have Williams revealing the barely restrained id that defined TV’s Mork & Mindy and Williams’ own live stand-up comedy. The DJ advises troops to wear green, purple, orange, yellow. “If you’re going into battle, clash!” Very funny as comedy, very moving as drama and made all the more poignant with Williams’ own goodbye last year.
Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley/ 1992/ USA/ Drama/ 100 mins/ R for language) 3.20 pm Sundance. Watch this if you liked The Prime Gig, Death of a Salesman or The Wolf of Wall Street. A film for the film lover features sterling performances from a genuine all-star (and one Baldwin) cast including Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey and a breathtakingly good Jack Lemmon, all masterfully guided by the American House of Cards director in a high wire tension-tight David Mamet script based on his own stage play. It’s like Hunter S Thompson reworked Death of a Salesman. The Baldwin, regrettably, is Alec, but even he is not bad enough to ruin the thing and, buoyed by the others, comes as close to good as he’ll ever get. Not a feel-good movie, perhaps, but very, very good.
*Starred films have been chosen in the last three months. Scheduled Internet times often vary on the day, particularly around month-end.
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